Potato Grower

August Potato/IGSA 2010

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PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE | TRAVIS BLACKER 3 WHAT A YEAR IT HAS BEEN IN THE potato industry! Like other states, Idaho experienced a bumper crop with amazing yields, causing a very high supply of potatoes. It’s nice to have the Idaho Potato Commission who recognized this early and responded with fantastic promotions and extra promotions to help move a crop this size. It was also helpful to have the National Potato Council working with other states to help the USDA understand our situation and respond with section 32 bonus buys. This also helped move the pile, but I think for the most part, it goes without saying that we are glad to see the 2009 crop leave us and welcome in the 2010 crop. If I were to sum up this last year with a few different leading topics, they would be: Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI), Sustainability and Mexico Market Access. It seems to me that these three topics were talked about in almost every meeting I went to this last year and I’d like to briefly address each one of these. PTI. Seems this topic has been hot ever since I started into the industry two years ago, and it continues to be a topic we are all concerned about. I believe this initiative was started with good intentions, to develop a standardized industry-wide approach to traceability. They have provided a great website to all who 1 6 IGSA 2010 have any questions about this at www.producetraceability.org. However PTI had proved to be somewhat confusing and quite expensive. To help the members of the IGSA with this initiative, the IGSA formed a PTI Committee to meet and talk about the issues concerning this and about solutions in trying to reach the seven different milestones. In our first meeting, many issues surfaced, and the group decided that the IGSA needed to write a letter outlining concerns and send it to the leadership of United Fresh Produce Association. When we did this, we found that we were not alone in these concerns. Since then, the board members of United Fresh Produce Association, Canadian Produce Marketing Association and the Produce Marketing Association have come out with some changes by relaxing some of the timelines of these milestones. Milestones No. 4 and No. 5 are now due at the same time as Milestone No. 6. I like to think that the IGSA had something to do with this. However, we still have more work to do. It seems to me that the creation of PTI has raised the question of whether the produce industry has traceability at all. Sheds here in Idaho can trace potatoes to the field in which they were grown and have been doing that for years. Traceability is a part of all food safety audits these sheds deal with and something that we all care about. Leading Topics 2 SUSTAINABILITY. Sustainability has been another hot topic, but one that has been around for years. We see all kinds of companies, different types and sizes becoming more “sustainable” all the time. We even see families becoming more sustainable. Recently at the Blacker home, we have started recycling all aluminum, plastics and paper in our effort to set good examples to our children. (I can’t take all the credit here; I have a great wife who pushed this long before I did.) We have even replaced all of our standard light bulbs throughout our house with new Energy Smart light bulbs that use only 26 watts of energy compared to 100 watts of energy. On the farms and in the sheds, managers are making more sustainable decisions all the time. They are making purchases that are saving them money, various inputs and energy thus becoming more sustainable. I believe that these smarter, environmentally friendlier decisions have always been done, but I feel the key to sustainability is keeping track of what you are doing and sharing it. I’m excited to have sustainability a part of the 82nd annual IGSA convention, as we will be having a seminar exclusively on this topic. 3 MEXICO MARKET ACCESS. As you all know, this continues to be a top priority for the NPC and the United States Potato Board. Not just Idaho but all states are helping with this. IGSA “Idaho Potatoes...Safe and Sustainable Food for Today and Tomorrow”

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